If You Don’t First Succeed

Frederick Banting was the last of five children born to a farming family in Ontario, Canada.  His first attempt at college was unsuccessful, but he tried again.  He was readmitted to college but dropped out to join the military.

His attempt to enlist was not successful due to his poor eyesight.  But he tried college again and graduated.  He was then accepted into the military because of his education in medical studies.  Medical service was needed because of World War I.

He was wounded in battle but kept on treating wounded soldiers.  He was awarded the Military Cross for heroism.  His military service gave him the license to practice medicine.  He did not have to have an M.D. degree.

His efforts to establish a medical practice were not successful.  He decided to complete his M.D. degree with the hopes of a more successful medical practice.  That’s when he became interested in diabetes.  Others had discovered that a hormone named insulin controlled the metabolism of sugar.  When insulin was insufficient, sugar built up and led to diabetes.

Banting and a medical student, Charles Best, developed a proposal for preventing the insulin hormone from being destroyed.  Their proposal was rejected, but the leader of the lab gave them space and 10 dogs to experiment with.  They were successful in their experiment and were able to extract insulin from the dogs.  A teenager was the first person to be treated for diabetes with insulin.

Banting then began a private practice to treat diabetes.  Banting was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine at the age of 32.  Not bad for a college dropout.  He split his prize money with Charles Best who was not named by the Nobel Committee because he had yet to receive his M.D. degree.

How we react to rejections says a lot about who we are.  Banting faced rejection numerous times in his life but never gave up.  Why are some people so resilient and others are not?  Is resilience a part of our DNA or is it more influenced by our character?  Certainly, a support system can help.

A critical element in resilience is having the opportunity for a second chance.  Why are we so reluctant to give people second chances? And why do some people make the most of second chances while others fall back into their old habits that led to failure?  Just imagine the great loss to society resulting from a lack of resilience and the opportunity for second chances.

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“I am a firm believer in the theory that you can do or be anything you wish in this world, within reason, if you are prepared to make the sacrifices, think and work hard enough and long enough.”

– Frederick Banting

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